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How Are Your Chapters Doing? (Really)

chapter health

It’s the end of the month, and you’re in the office crunching the latest numbers for your national association, trying to ensure that everything is progressing well. You notice that a few chapters are struggling with membership and it makes you wonder what’s going on. This is a good reminder of how important it is to stay connected to your chapters and understand their day-to-day challenges. How are your chapters doing? (Really) … Are they going strong or barely keeping afloat? The easiest way to evaluate chapter health is by looking at their data. After all, success is in the numbers.

First consider your chapters’ activities. How many meetings do they have? Hopefully, at least one a month. And how well are these meetings attended? Compare that with the number of members in the chapter, and you’ll get a feel of how that’s going. Take it a step further, and interview a few chapter leaders to gain insight into the attendee mix. You might find that a handful of the same people are showing up at each meeting. So, what’s happening with the others?

Let’s look at the chapter’s recruitment and retention data. How has their membership been trending in the past few years? Declining or flat numbers are good indicators of health issues. This is most commonly a result of the chapter’s activities and the value that it provides to the members. If members don’t get what they expect from their chapter, then they won’t attend local meetings and ultimately renew their membership.

What about their non-dues revenue? Chapters need money and a predictable budget to function properly. Non-dues revenue is the simplest way to increase the budget – especially during periods of flat or declining membership — and chapters can do that by determining what their more valuable events are and charging appropriately for them or by asking local companies to sponsor them.

National organizations that can make fact-based recommendations based on quantitative insights are best positioned to aid in the continued health of their chapters. The first step in fostering a robust association is knowing what’s going on and how it relates to your larger strategic objectives. That’s why it’s so important to know how your chapters are doing in terms of activity, prospects, and revenue, to name a few. And even though some of this data may be hard to get, it is critical to the success of the association as a whole.

Remember, success is in the numbers. What are yours telling you?


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